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Under Your Own Power... Parachute

NCJ Number
Date Published
2 pages
This article describes the use of flying powered parachutes for law enforcement aerial surveillance purposes.
Small and rural law enforcement agencies have long needed a low-cost alternative to airplanes and helicopters for aerial surveillance operations. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has responded by conducting field demonstrations with a pair of powered parachutes since 2005. Powered parachutes are ultralight, two-seater craft that use a parachute as wings. The craft can travel about 30 miles per hour and has a range of approximately 100 miles. It uses either mid-grade gasoline or the low-lead aircraft fuel found at most airports. The aircraft can be difficult to launch in winds greater than 15 miles per hour, but the craft can be flown in cold weather and can be launched from any unimproved field. The powered parachutes cost approximately $15,000 and present the perfect solution for small and rural law enforcement agencies that need aircraft to conduct aerial surveillance for missing children, lost hikers, and illicit marijuana fields. Thus far, the powered parachutes have been used to as part of Hurricane Rita relief efforts in Texas and have been used to provide aerial photo reconnaissance for Maryland law enforcement agencies. NIJ is ready to open the powered parachute demonstration project to law enforcement agencies; contact information is provided.